Sea-Level Rise and Coastal Land Use in Hawaii: A Policy Tool Kit for State and Local Governments

This Policy Tool Kit was developed by the Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (“ICAP”) and the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program. The Tool Kit surveys state adaptation plans, federal efforts, and other key sources to identify and discuss important land use policy tools for Hawai‘i, and suggests how these policies can be used by state and local governments to avoid or lessen the impacts of sea-level rise and related coastal hazards.

The report presents the scientific research showing that climate change is causing sea-level rise in the Hawaiian Islands and around the world. The physical and environmental impacts of rising sea levels - including coastal erosion, flooding, wave inundation, and rising water tables - are detailed, as well as the economic and social impacts. The report also addresses the necessity for adaptive management, and the important role to be played by state and local governments in implementing adaptation measures.

The tool kit identifies and discusses specific land use policy tools Hawai‘i state and local governments should consider in efforts to address sea-level rise. These policy tools are presented in four main categories: planning tools, regulatory tools, spending tools, and market-based tools.

Finally, to encourage action and make the tool kit ready for use by state and local governments, an "action matrix" is included as an appendix. The action matrix is organized according to the three major approaches to sea-level rise: accommodation, protection, and retreat.  In addition to summarizing the policy tools and initial steps for accommodation, protection, and retreat, each action matrix identifies the lead agency and proposes a time frame for specific state and local government actions. The tools are ranked based on impact and feasibility, with the highest ranking policy tools discussed first.


Publication Date: December 2011

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